discovering “my business”

This picture has nothing to do with the content of this post, I just like it. Okay, on to the real stuff…

As a blogger, you wouldn’t think I would be someone who’s concerned about my personal life staying private. And that’s mostly true! After all, I’m the one who chooses to publish my life updates and share my innermost thoughts. So why am I posting about my privacy? Well for one, it’s been the topic of discussion in my mass communications class and I was very intrigued by it. And two, I’ve sort of kept a recent part of my life private and I think I like it.

I view my blog as a form of expression, and almost as a journal. That’s the reason I created it in the first place. My goal wasn’t to gain a bunch of followers or to have a themed blog that everyone envies. My goal was to make it me, and to make it as real as possible. More importantly, I wanted a place to be able to look back at my life whenever I wanted. Thus, Life in Letters was born! (well technically, my original blog was called Just Trust Me, but that’s beside the point) This might sound a little silly, but despite how painfully public this blog is, I feel safe. I feel safe sharing my feelings and photos and ideas. This is dumb, I know. I guess I feel this way because the only people reading my writing are people who are actually interested, and if you are then I don’t mind you reading my personal thoughts! However, I’ve recently learned in Mass Comm that it’s not quite this simple. (don’t tune out just because I mentioned a class!)

We discussed the incident involving Edward Snowden, who leaked classified information from the NSA that revealed just how closely the government watches us as citizens. The government requires large communication companies– such as Apple, Yahoo, and AT&T– to hand over their customers’ data to the NSA. Yahoo refused to do this since they believed the request was unconstitutional, and the government threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 dollars a day for disobeying the government. Woah. So now there are some obvious questions that have risen:

Is it okay for the government to have access to our private information as long as they’re protecting us?

What is the government actually doing with our information?

I feel like there are several factors that influence an answer to these questions, but my main concern is this: Why are the citizens unaware that the government has their private information? When I share some of the facts written above to my friends, they are in complete shock. They have no idea the government is doing this–like most of America– and it was this specific reason that Edward Snowden exposed what he did. The government of course views him as a traitor, and he would be charged as one if he ever returned to America. (He’s currently located in Russia) So, is Snowden a traitor? Or did he simply expose something that the government wanted kept secret?

The government also tells us that accessing our private information (such as phone calls, text messages, emails, etc) helps keep us safe, which I’m certain is true to an extent. But how far should this go? Where’s the line. What’s really my business??

I don’t know all the answers, but I do want people to know. Information is power, folks!

Invading Your Privacy: Simply a Matter of Ethics?

The scary thing about living in our modern world is that everything is traceable. Whatever you send, say or post online can be tracked and once it’s online it will stay there forever and it never goes away. People are ever-changing creatures and technology is a permanent force, and I think that’s where we run into trouble.

I think the major issues of privacy all kicked off when Facebook changed the settings on every user’s account to not be private anymore in 2011. So unless you went into the site and changed it manually, all of your details were open for anyone to see. But also keep in mind that these were details that when someone became your friend they were accessible anyway but only if both parties were friends. Then came the Edward Snowden scandal and people became frightened for the protection of their privacy even more. I think the government had every right to look at our telephone history and look at our online history. They’re looking for big evidence or behavior that would set off red flags. And I think the reason people don’t like it is not because they feel like they have something to hide, but because they think the government’s effort in trying to find something suspicious out of millions of records is frivolous to begin with. They’d have to go through probably hundreds of thousands of phone records before they came across something that was legitimately concerning. But just the chance that they could find something and save lives is, in my opinion reason enough for them to look around. Even if some people think it’s snooping. I feel like the government should use all the resources and power it can to protect us. When our government is no longer concerned for our safety, then we should be frightened. But that’s just the question isn’t it? Is the government digging into our personal information to truly protect us? I say yes. Because what else would they be trying to do? The government’s not interested in how many times you talk to your boyfriend a day or if you visit a porn site. There are harms in having too much or too little government surveillance. Too much government surveillance, and the citizens don’t trust your intentions. And I think the more rigid the government is about watching people, the higher the chance is that slowly over time we become a country where the government completely controls it’s citizens. On the other side, having too little government watch is dangerous because then anyone can do anything and not worry about getting in trouble or having to answer for their actions. I think it’s good to be reminded that your government is in charge.

The media obviously plays a major role in reporting about how the government watches us. Mass media companies released the stories of Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning, which had a huge impact on how US citizens viewed the way they were being tracked. By these two men bringing stories like this to the public it put into our mind from the start that because these stories were such a big deal the actions of the government must be very wrong. When in reality I think the reason the Edward Snowden story was such a big deal was because he sent out information that wasn’t his to share and got away with it. We need to calm down and maybe not instantly believe everything we read or see on the news.

Does Privacy Still Exist



It is scary to think about all the cover-ups that took place before the dawn of the digital age. If you think about it, without the Internet, phones, cameras, television, and social media, someone could definitely get away with something bad if they needed to because news coverage just wasn’t what it is today.100 years ago, news didn’t spread near as fast, again because a newspaper could only travel so fast. All the rural residents of the country received news way slower than everybody else, and by the time they got the news It could be a couple days old. Fast forward to present day, everything seems to almost be instant, and you have so many sources to receive these “instant” current events. There is news on television, news on the Internet, and news on social media. It has taken over the digital world. With all of this technology, is it possible that our privacy has been compromised?

Taking a look at this add posted to Time website, it is definitely fuzzy to read about what has been going on with our privacy. When Edward Snowden leaked the information on what the NSA has been secretly doing, a person will wonder if that is just the tip of the iceberg? I think the harm in this privacy violation is mostly the fact that they kept it a secret, which means there is bound to be more secrets. How do we know that it doesn’t go beyond our phone records? What if they are reading our text messages, emails, and other private things? The truth is that they most likely are. The NSA claims this is for national security protection, but they never address that it isn’t protecting our civil liberties and privacy.

I observed that the media has done a relatively fair job at reporting on the surveillance issue. What happened was when Edward Snowden revealed the information on NSA, the media exploded. They covered the topic of privacy violations, until the audience was tired of hearing about it, so then they moved on. I cannot say they did a bad job informing on how privacy is being violated, because honestly I think they found out all that they could.

These privacy issues do not need to be taken lightly. As American citizens, it is our right to know all aspects of how our private data is being used. I am all for national security, but it is not the governments place to decide that they can just look at my phone records whenever they want. The government exists for the people; the people do not exist for the government. With that being said we need to continue addressing this issue so that we can get the truth.


Invading Your Privacy: Simply a Matter of Ethics?

The amount of governmental surveillance of American citizens is something that by many could possibly be seen as a positive device in inspecting the daily lives of American citizens in order to protect us. But I must stop to think and ask myself the question, “when does this go too far?”

The amount of surveillance the government has over its citizens is something that for many is going too far 100% of the time. In cases such as the Edward Snowden case where he contacted Glenn Greenwald concerning the PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) installation to Greenwald’s devices which would later expose the National Security Agency. In my opinion I think Snowden’s invasion of Greenwald’s privacy makes him a betrayer to the United States. He exposed a United States agency in charge of keeping this nation secure. The surveillance going on without the “Average Joe” understanding or being aware is borderline ludicrous. It may be something that is at times in the best interest of the people but in Snowden’s case this most definitely is more than a matter of ethics. In cases related to more serious topics such as wikileaks, exposing the NSA, or other of the like it is more with a mission to expose and make a point. This crosses a basis of ethics to a whole new level.

Furthermore, it is frightening to find out the various ways not only the government but also individuals are spying on American people. This invasion of privacy may be a violation to the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, but there is nothing stopping these rule breaking citizens. In the George Clooney case and I am sure with other celebrity and public figure cases, this invasion of privacy absolutely goes against a matter of ethics. I cannot imagine being in the position of someone as high profile as George Clooney and having the media go to such a high extreme to attempt to separate he and his fiancé. This invasion of privacy in cases similar to these is something that is more business related. It is all about getting and eventually selling the new and best story out there no matter what it takes.

In cases where the government “spies” or invades the privacy of its citizens I think it at times can have some good. Of course I also believe it crosses a certain boundary, but if it is in the best interest in maintaining the welfare of this country I will be nonpartisan to that involvement. On the other hand, there are many types of invasion of privacy which go above and beyond ethical norms of society.

Mike Boettcher Response

Hearing about the extreme difficulties Mike Boettcher faced in his war-time journalism made me realize how many risks and sacrifices one often has to make in a line of work that they’re passionate about; it made me realize what boundaries I wanted to have in my future journalism career as well as what fields within the broad spectrum of journalism I would want to rule out of the potluck.

While Boettcher’s story is both motivating and inspiring, some aspects also appeared to be grueling and heart wrenching. It’s not uncommon to see veterans coming back to America with PTSD based off of the things they witnessed across the ocean. As a journalist, you wouldn’t only have to bear witness to the tragic events many people in the army face, you are often forced to recount these terrible occurrences in your mind in order to do these reports.

Prior to his Mike Boettcher’s lecture, I hadn’t fully considered the danger that war-time reporters have to face. I had lived under the assumption that a majority of the information they receive is second hand and all of the footage is filmed with large lenses a safe distance away. However I soon learned that my assumptions were false and that often times the journalists out there face significant danger and are likely to be facing huge obstacles physically and mentally.

In terms of things going on back home, Boettcher mentioned the fact that his constant travels abroad put a strain in his marriage so significant that he ended up getting a divorce from his wife. He held so match passion for his journalistic career that he decided he loved it more than his now ex-wife, which is a huge decision to make. The fact that he spent over 300 days a year in a war zone just further proves his level of commitment to his craft.

Finally, Boettcher’s talk made me realize, this was not a level of journalism that I feel that I could commit to. While I do hope to occasionally travel in my future endeavors, I can’t see myself being happy in the middle of a warzone. I don’t think I could cope with the death, sadness, surroundings, and lack of family, friends, and luxuries away from my home for that much of the year. In order to commit to this type of journalism, you have to be prepared to make it the love of your life.

The Persecution of Christians

I believe that Jesus suffered died and was buried (the rising again i do not). I know it’s a very important event for Christians because he died for our sins. And that in itself is what I grew up believing was martyrdom. Millions of people since Christ and even before were killed for what they believe in. In RE (religious education) we learned of a man who was shot because he believed in Christ and he admitted it. To die for Christ or any other religious figure claims you as a martyr. Some people, as Pagels mentions, thought that Jesus died for them so that they would not have to die. They thought it was foolish that people were dying because they were Christians. I think Martyrdom is up to a person to believe in since it is such a personal choice.

Violation of Privacy

In today’s society, there are numerous scandals and uproars about privacy and our fourth amendment rights. Some feel as though the government is violating privacy. The biggest argument I seem to hear floating around is that peoples privacy is being violated on social media. I hear of people complaining about the fact that they post something and people take it out of context, or people take the content of a post and use it against the author. I hate to be harsh, but I’ve got a big news flash for you. Its called social media for a reason. If you post something on Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram, its public content. simple as that. Now going off on another common topic pertaining to privacy is the rumor of the government using common things such as cell phones to be able to listen in to our lives. Growing up I have heard this story evolve from so many different forms. As a child of the 90’s I recall the biggest controversy at the time being that the government created Furby’s as a secret recording and listening device. Now lets be honest, that story is believable just based off the fact that they were little robot devils that couldn’t be killed unless that batteries were pulled out, and even then, America had nightmares of the little demons still working without batteries. With this being said, I move my attention the the rumors of the government being able to see every text message you sent, and being able to hear and record every word of your phone call. I remember my friends telling me that there was a massive underground center of people sitting at computers just monitoring every person in American as their daily job. For the most part, we can all determine that that’s not true. right? But haven’t we all heard the rumor of you being able to type the word bomb in context in a text message, and a secret service agent showing up at your door step? Despite the growing and ever changing rumors, I can say from my own opinion that the Government doesn’t listen in on our private at home lives. If they did, I’m sure they would hear a lot of drug deals, domestic violence, and sex. lets be honest. we’re human. But anything you post to the internet, just consider it public game. No matter where or how its posted. I mean there could be a government agent reading this blog right now as you read it. You never know. Or do you?

Violation of Privacy

Invasion of privacy, simply a matter of ethics?

Social media is now one things that almost every single person has in common. I have to honestly say, almost every single person I have befriended or made acquaintances with is on some sort of social media site. As I said in my previous blog post, this is inevitable with the advancements of technology in this day and age. I can personally contact and access almost all of my friends through social media. I can see what they ate for breakfast, statuses on how their day is going and even their personal information. Of course everyone thinks their conversations etc. is private but reality is that its not. This is something that all people need to know. After realizing this its made me watch what I post and the image I create for myself, to an extent. But the controversy of privacy invasion has had light shed upon it. Opinion time: I don’t mind if my conversations etc. are monitored by the government. I know that sentence sounds a bit exaggerated, but its true, I don’t want to sound cliche, but I have nothing to hide. Of course there are people who want their privacy, and that is completely fine, but as long as it keeps me, my family, and my nation safe, I don’t mind being monitored one bit. Yes it blatantly violates our rights, but with the terror that is running rampant in todays society, if law enforcement can prevent an act of terrorism or crime (large scale) occur, then I am all for it.

Invading Your Privacy: Simply A Matter of Ethics?

I do enjoy privacy. And I appreciate that I live in a country where privacy is fairly easy to come by. Whether it be in real life or online, I have tried to cultivate an aura of privacy in my life. It’s important to not over-expose yourself lest you want the entire world to know your life story. That’s why invasion of celebrities’ private lives is such a pressing issue right now. So many celebrities don’t want the world to know everything, yet everyone wants to know. Once celebrities reach a certain level of prominence, it’s almost as if they’re dehumanized. Their lives are contorted and exposed as a biography that they didn’t necessarily consent for the public to read. Protection of celebrity’s private lives is something that needs to be given more attention because their private information is not only stolen, but then spread to the world. A somewhat different story applies to the general public. In the two decades I’ve been alive, I’ve been able to witness the surge of social media. The issue of privacy is more relevant than ever to the general public. It’s the user’s responsibility to decide what he or she posts on various social media platforms. If one is especially concerned about privacy issues, then setting their accounts to private and rarely posting locations or addresses/phone numbers would be wise decisions. I certainly don’t claim to understand how the government can confiscate private records from everyday citizens. Currently, I am not bothered by the idea of the government having the power to obtain such information. Perhaps I am naive to the idea right now because I don’t know enough information about the subject to form a hard-lined stance. And personally, as stated before, I enjoy privacy. But I am not bothered by the fact knowing that my government has access to my privacy simply because I have nothing to hide. And the government has not personally done any evil towards me to make me believe they have ill-intent or they plan to abuse their power. I am positive subversive characters and acts of espionage are themes throughout any government, even in America. But generally speaking, I all-together trust my government until they give me a reason not to. The integrity of American government is so important to obtain because its system is one-of-a-kind and arguably the “best” in the history of the world. As with communist regimes, fascist dictatorships, and the like- the invasion of the public’s privacy is abused terribly. So once America starts blatantly abusing their power on a scale which is unsettling to a majority of the population, my opinions may change. But for now, I am content with the level of protection my information is under. (And as much as I’d love to know everything about Leonardo DiCaprio, his information should be given as much respect as mine.)

Internet Privacy in the Modern World

If you have never actually gone through the process of googling yourself, I encourage you to try it. It is borderline terrifying. And no, not just because the internet manages to pull all your embarrassing photos your gawky and awkward 8th grade self posted on myspace, but because there is all this information about you out there that you did not even know about. If you were on a sports roster in high school; you can find it. Who your homecoming date was your sophomore year of high school; you can find it. Yes you can restrict some of this with privacy settings, but for the most part anything you put online is out there and someone can find it. Personally, I do think that this knowledge helps keep you accountable as far as what you post online. Especially for my generation, now that companies will search for you on social media in order to determine if you are morally qualified for a given position, what you post online can have severe consequences. Our parents generation, and those before then, never had to worry about their juvenile acts being broadcasted on Facebook for all the world to see with possibly disastrous results. With the creation of the Internet came a whole new set of responsibilities.

Internet privacy is not just about embarrassing photos of you on social media, and possible job opportunities searching through their dirty laundry on Google. It has crossed over to a issue people are now taking up with the federal government. The fact that they can have access to all of our internet searches, phone calls, text messages…this is a huge asset for them in an effort to further protect the country. But when does safety cross the line and begin violating our constitutional rights. For me, personally, I do not have a problem with large government and I additionally have nothing to hide. That being said, I do not really think that looking through peoples internet history and listening in on phone calls really does all that much for homeland security. I know after 9/11 the government really began to do this to help fight terrorism, but how much help did that really do? I am fine with having some rights being taken away if it truly protects the country, but to me it just seems like an excuse for unnecessary and unhelpful power.